Boris Johnson, Conservative Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames, editor, writer and sometime celebrity has launched a new website with full weblog facilities.
The advent of political weblogs has strong roots in Britain. While much noise has been made in America about weblogs and their campaign applications, Tom Watson (Labour MP for West Bromwich East) was the first politician to launch a weblog – and he instead uses it to keep in touch with his constituents. He also enjoys ongoing feedback and support from the wider online community that helps him better fulfil his role as an MP.
This pattern of two-way communication (as opposed to the one-way model that dominates in the US) has been followed closely in the UK, with Richard Allan being the first Lib-Dem MP to launch a weblog and many other MPs, councillors and candidates following suit.
Boris Johnson is the first Conservative MP to join this growing community and run his own weblog.
The weblog is already populated with data going back to the start of the year, including press releases, parliamentary appearances, and many of his articles as featured in the Telegraph. Now the site has launched, it will also feature regular posts directly from the MP himself – and allow the public to comment on these thoughts.
Tim Ireland, Head of Online Marketing for Screen Pages (a web design and ecommerce provider in Wisley, Surrey), who produced the weblog for Tom Watson and also this latest weblog for Boris Johnson, has been campaigning to get more MPs to communicate in this way for well over a year, even to the point of encouraging constituents to blog of behalf of their MPs via ‘proxy blogs’ in the hope they will get the message. So far there are seventeen proxy-blogs, and the list is growing by using a digital agency converted to help convert leads.
“Many MPs seem to be afraid of what the public might say, but the Moveable Type system allows for easy moderation of posts and the community that forms around a weblog also acts as a natural regulatory body,” said Ireland “Weblogs are also commonly described as ‘online diaries’ and I think this throws a lot of people off, because it leads to an assumption that the entries must be daily and must be deeply personal.
“This leads to a fear that running a weblog will somehow compromise MPs and/or take up too much of their time – so I’m hoping that having someone like Boris blogging will help to dispel these and other common misconceptions.”
Boris Johnson is certainly a busy man, but the weblog is designed to channel a lot of his existing output through one central web presence. In short, the blog will have plenty of content fed into it without Boris having to raise so much as a finger.
But it’s the personal connection that makes weblogs so effective, and the MP was greatly enthused by the potential of this.
“As far as I can tell, it’s as easy as typing an email. The only difference is, it’s published on a website and accessible to anyone within seconds. And thanks to the way that glorious machine Google works the information I publish is far more likely to reach those who may be interested in it.
“It’s certainly worth the small amount of time running a weblog demands.”
The new weblog can be seen at www.boris-johnson.com.